Zipcar to bring 50 electric vehicles to London

June 22nd, 2016 § Comments Off on Zipcar to bring 50 electric vehicles to London § permalink

Car-sharing service Zipcar is partnering with Westminster city council to bring fifty Volkswagen Golf GTE plug-in hybrid electric cars to its members in London.
Westminster will receive 40 cars and 10 additional cars are to be sent elsewhere in London, such as Tower Bridge and Old Oak.

Electric car charging points have been installed in 40 of Westminster city council’s club parking bays.

The city council has installed electric charging infrastructure in 40 of its car club parking bays.

Councillor Heather Acton, Westminster city council cabinet member for parking and sustainability, said: “Electric vehicles are key to helping address pollution. Giving more people the chance to drive an electric car in London, and on a shared basis, is a big step towards creating a greener city.

“We are delighted that residents and visitors to Westminster will have the opportunity to try out these vehicles. Car sharing makes so much sense in central London, where a private car is not often needed.”


The cars are available to drivers for £7 an hour, which is the same rate as a petrol Volkswagen Golf.

According to Zipcar Figures suggest that one in 10 UK car club members have used an electric vehicle, which is up on just 4% in 2014.

Mark Walker, Zipcar UK general manager, said: “At Zipcar, we are all about simple and responsible urban living. The Volkswagen Golf GTE fully supports that ethos and is ideal for our members. The combination of pure electric vehicle driving in the city and fully flexibility to escape anywhere in the country, without compromise, is compelling. We believe our members will thoroughly enjoy driving this car in electric mode and will become keen advocates for electric vehicle driving in London.”

The car club strategy for London announced last May by councils, the Greater London Authority and Transport for London is targeting 50% of car-share fleets to be electric vehicles by 2050.


Nissan’s 60-kWh, 200-Mile Battery Pack: What We Know So Far

November 6th, 2015 § Comments Off on Nissan’s 60-kWh, 200-Mile Battery Pack: What We Know So Far § permalink

Will the next-generation 2018 Nissan Leaf offer an option that could provide 200 miles of more of real-world driving range?

Based on the concept car and prototype battery pack that officially bowed this past week, coinciding with the Tokyo Motor Show, it’s increasingly likely.

One of them is that it points to how a new generation of vehicles with autonomous-drive modes might look—and function with pedestrians, normally driven cars, and the immediate surroundings.
With the concept Nissan also dropped some hints about a potential styling direction for the next-generation Leaf electric car.

Furthermore, the concept officially threw in a 60-kWh battery—which, if it’s affordable enough, could be the key to stay competitive against a raft of rivals including the Chevy Bolt, and Tesla Model 3.

Although a Nissan official told us that 60 kWh isn’t a hard-and-fast capacity number, the approximate size is something that the automaker plans to offer in the next several years.
And that pack isn’t just concept-car fantasy. It exists (pictured above), developed internally by Nissan, and they’re calling the pack a working prototype, aimed at providing a 500-km (300-mile) range in the very generous European or Japanese driving cycles.

In all, it’s quite different than the currently available 24-kWh pack in the Leaf or its upgraded 30-kWh pack that’s going to be available beginning in a few months. The latter will offer an EPA-rated 107 miles.

At least for now, any claims that the automaker is planning to move to an external supplier are premature.

Lithium-ion battery pack of 2011 Nissan Leaf, showing cells assembled into modules 

 This past week, at the Nissan Technical Center at Atsugi, Japan, we were about to learn more about this pack from some of the team overseeing its development. Here are some key points of this next-gen, 200-mile battery:

Different chemistry. 

The prototype moves from a nickel manganese cathode to a nickel manganese cobalt one. The anode remains made of graphite, and the electrolyte remains a lithium compound.

Flexible pack structure. 

The current Leaf battery uses four cells per module (with 48 modules in the entire 24-kWh pack)—a structure that allows a uniform height and shape for the pack. But this one moves to a multiple-cell configuration; Nissan will be able to adjust the number of cell stacks (and thus height) depending on packaging and capacity demands. An official said that they were conservative with the number of cells per stack in the original battery design, but with essentially no failures or issues, they’re fine perhaps dramatically increasing that number.

Faster charging. 

Engineers have made an effort to reduce impedance, through the increased quantity of cells and a revised electrode material. This allows longer charging at maximum current—and will potentially allow faster-rate 100-kW charging versus the current 50-kW. Higher voltage is under discussion.

More weight, but a lot more power density. Using the 24-kWh pack as a baseline, Nissan says that the new 60-kWh pack weighs just 220 pounds more. So with that older pack weighing in the vicinity of 660 pounds, that ups overall weight to nearly 900 pounds. It’s impressive, considering the gain in kWh per pound.

Air cooling. 

Nissan made the original Leaf battery pack completely air-cooled, and while there were some early, isolated issues in very hot climates like Arizona, those seem to be largely solved today. Liquid cooling isn’t being considered for an entirely new, larger-capacity battery—at least in this prototype form. Forced-air cooling isn’t likely either.

Increased state-of-charge range. 

That’s thanks to a wider voltage range—which runs at about 2.5 to 4.15 volts in the current battery.

Longer service life. 

Nissan has revised the electrode material and optimized the lithium electrolyte (it won’t say how in either case), with the net effect being less of a performance drop over years and hundreds of charge cycles. Suppressed lithium corrosion will help durability, too. One of several charts we saw but were instructed not to publish, if to scale, suggested that instead of a standard capacity degradation to 80 percent after five years, it now might be 90 percent.

Good news at last for Leeds drivers (but only if you drive an electric plug-in car)

October 25th, 2015 § Comments Off on Good news at last for Leeds drivers (but only if you drive an electric plug-in car) § permalink

LEEDS could introduce free parking for electric cars as civic leaders try to forge a path to creating a clean, green and modern global gateway.   
 Environment bosses are considering the parking perk for green-minded drivers in the city centre as part of a raft of measures to urgently improve air quality.

It follows revelations that Leeds is at severe risk of missing its European emissions targets for 2020 – and could face fines of millions of Euros if it doesn’t up its green-friendly game.

It also comes just days after civic decision-makers unveiled ambitious plans to revitalise parts of Leeds city centre, boost the public realm and update the creaking highways network as part of a 20 year vision.

Oslo, Los Angeles and the London borough of Westminster are among a handful of world cities to have already introduced free parking for plug-in electric vehicles – with mixed levels of success.

Councillor Mark Dobson, Leeds City Council’s executive member for environmental protection and community safety, said: “With the immensely positive health benefits people could experience and the possibility of severe financial penalties, doing nothing is not an option.

“We want to put the emphasis on rewarding people who make a positive contribution to improving the city’s air quality, such as offering free or discounted parking for ultra-low emission vehicles.

“This alone isn’t going to be enough.

“So we need to think about and act on what we can all do as businesses, communities and individuals about our travel habits that will cut pollution and improve air quality.”

He added the city was already doing some good work – with a quarter of all Leeds’s municipal vehicles set to run on new technologies.

Friends of the Earth’s Simon Bowens, who lives in Leeds and drives an electric car, said the plan was “a step in the right direction” but stressed it wasn’t “the whole solution”.

“Certainly the encouragement of less polluting vehicles in the city centre is welcome, but I don’t know whether electric cars are the whole solution,” he said.

“The question is how do you get more people walking and cycling – and better public transport.

“A lot of problems come from car traffic in the city centre, so if you remove that, it is positive.

“But there are other things – such as areas like Burmantofts and Harehills getting the most HGVS – which are very polluting as well.”

He said improving charging points in the city centre was also vital as “the ability to charge your vehicle is difficult” in Leeds.

Leeds currently has around a dozen public electric car charging points, amongst them the Elland Road Park and Ride, Leeds Arena, the council-run Woodhouse Lane multi-storey and Asda in Middleton.

Public charging points can power a car up to 80 per cent in half an hour – enough for an 80 mile drive.

Mr Bowens added Leeds has some way to go before catching up with promotion of low polluting vehicles, and the North East had been “particularly good” at encouraging usage, partly due to the Nissan Leaf – the leading EV (electronic vehicle) brand – being manufactured in Sunderland.

Opposition leaders from Leeds City Council’s’s Tory and Lib Dem groups welcomed the proposals, but called for “firm action”.

Coun John Procter, Tory group deputy leader, said a free parking initiative for plug-in cars, like Norway’s trailblazing and highly successful scheme in Oslo was the sort of “imaginative approach” that Leeds should look at, and encouraged his Labour colleagues to lobby Central Government to provide extra funding.

Coun Stewart Golton, leader of the Lib Dem group, warned that the city’s emissions readings could get worse before they get better, because new plans to pedestrianise some parts of the city centre would divert traffic to the inner ring road, one of the city’s worst hotspots for poor air quality.

He urged more “firm action” by the council rather than ideas.

UK sales of electric cars have seen a massive boom in the past year.

From January to September this year, Nissan’s Leaf model sold 43 per cent more than in the first nine months of 2014, and year-to-date sales are already dwarfing the 2013 total of 1,812 by more than double.

Sales of the firm’s e-NV200 electric van have also more than doubled since last year, according to a Nissan spokeswoman.

Less Energy-Intensive Heating For Electric Cars Demonstrated At Frankfurt Auto Show

September 15th, 2015 § Comments Off on Less Energy-Intensive Heating For Electric Cars Demonstrated At Frankfurt Auto Show § permalink

Less Energy-Intensive Heating For Electric Cars Demonstrated At Frankfurt Auto ShowFilm-based heating system for electric cars from Fraunhofer Institute

Onboard accessories can be a major drag on the efficiency of cars.

While it’s hard to imagine a new car being sold without heating or air conditioning, these systems draw a not-insignificant amount of power.

And electric cars particularly, that can have a negative impact on range.

Researchers at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute hope to mitigate that impact with a prototype heating system to be demonstrated at the 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show.
The system uses a “film-based panel” that researchers claim is more efficient than conventional electric heaters.

The film is coated with a thin layer of conductive carbon nanotubes (CNTs). When electricity flows through the film, the CNTs create resistance, generating heat.

Because the film is only a few micrometers thick, and flexible, it can be applied directly to surfaces like door panels.

This helps reduce weight, and allows heat to be more efficiently dispersed into the cabin, researchers say.

Heat is distributed evenly over the entire surface of the film, and those surfaces cool down very quickly when the system is shut off, they claim.

Replacing conventional heaters with this setup could also be a boon to those in charge of packaging car interiors, in theory.

Many electric cars currently rely more heavily on heated seats and steering wheels–rather than full cabin heating–to cut energy consumption and maintain range.

But the Fraunhofer researchers claim a more expansive heating system is actually more necessary in electric cars, because less heat is generated by the powertrain, compared to an internal-combustion car.

For the prototype system, sheets of film were cut into strips, and then glued to door panels.

But researchers hope to eventually develop a spray-on film, which could be applied more quickly and more evenly.

However, this technology will likely remain in the laboratory for now.
No manufacturers have publicly shown interest in it, and promising test results do not inevitably lead to commercial viability.

Making most of it: Renault offers tips to maximize range for electric cars

August 25th, 2015 § Comments Off on Making most of it: Renault offers tips to maximize range for electric cars § permalink

The Renault ZOE is offered only in Europe, but it is a close cousin to the Nissan LEAF available in the US. Renault has put together an informative video that shows drivers how to maximize range for electric cars.

For many people, maximizing range is not a major concern during daily driving, such as commuting. But for longer trips, it may be important to know how to maximize range in order not to get stuck with a discharged battery along the way.

Most of the tips are the same common sense ideas drilled into us all during driver training, especially avoiding repeated full acceleration starts. The ZOE has a convenient dashboard display that stays green when the driver is conserving electric power but turns yellow when the accelerator pedal is being used to liberally.

The second major piece of advice in the video is to drive at moderate speeds. Wind resistance increases with the square of speed. What does that mean? Simply this. If you double your speed, wind resistance goes up by a factor of 4. In other words, it takes 4 times as much power to push your car through the air at 80 mph than it does at 40.

Third, Renault suggests taking advantage of regenerative braking to put electricity back into the battery while slowing. Many electric car drivers get so good at doing this, they seldom use the brakes at all.

Finally, Renault recommends “preconditioning” your electric car so that the cabin gets heated or cooled to the ideal temperature while the car is still connected to the battery charger. Heating and cooling systems in an electric car sap a lot of the battery’s energy. You can use your smartphone to set the temperature you want it before you begin your trip. That way, you can start off in comfort and with a fully charged battery.

One interesting thing here is that the ZOE now has 149 miles of range. That’s quite a bit more than the LEAF, which only has 88 miles of range. Is that a clue that the LEAF will have more range soon?

Via: Car Scoops

Better Late Than Never: Longbridge caretaker tests out electric cars for Birmingham City Council

July 2nd, 2015 § Comments Off on Better Late Than Never: Longbridge caretaker tests out electric cars for Birmingham City Council § permalink

Caretaker Gary Chalke demonstrates his electric works van which he can keep and charge on his driveway at home in Longbridge

Caretaker Gary Chalke demonstrates his electric works van which he can keep and charge on his driveway at home in Longbridge

A caretaker from Longbridge has been selected to test out electric cars for the whole of Birmingham City Council.

The authority has installed a charging point in Gary Chalke’s home to see if it can save thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ cash from its budgets.

Over the next three months, Gary, a district neighbourhood caretaker, will be tasked with using a low carbon Nissan e-NV200 van to measure its cost-efficiency.

If the trial is successful, and money is seen to be saved, more council staff will be asked to drive electric vehicles and offered the British Gas charging points, either at home or their workplace.

What is an electric car?

An earlier trial involving a pool car, a Nissan Leaf, used by care workers found that, as well as having zero carbon emissions, the car cost £1,660 less to maintain and tax over five years compared to regular council vehicles, and saved 6.2p per mile on running costs – cositng 3.3p instead of the 9.5p per mile for diesel.

Council cabinet member for neighbourhood management John Cotton said: “The results from the initial trial are encouraging and show there are clear advantages to making our fleet of vehicles greener.

“But we need to test a number of different scenarios to get the most out of such technology. Doing this the right way will save the council and the taxpayer money, while also helping to address issues relating to air quality and the health and wellbeing of our citizens.

“This latest trial will help shape a green vehicle fleet for the council in future.”

Andy Butler from British Gas added: “Innovative trials like this demonstrate that using electric vehicles as part of a council’s fleet can bring significant benefits – from saving money to improving local air quality.

“Electric vehicles are also really convenient for council staff as they can be charged at home or at work while they’re parked. The charging point we’ve installed is as easy to use as plugging in a mobile phone, so we’re confident that it will support the neighbourhood caretaker in their duties.“

Wilmslow one of first to get charging points for electric vehicles

June 22nd, 2015 § Comments Off on Wilmslow one of first to get charging points for electric vehicles § permalink

wilmslow june 2015 003

Cheshire East Council has secured government grant funding to provide electric vehicle recharging points for local road users.

The grant funding from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (Olev) will enable the Council to provide six 50kV rapid charging units – two of which will be in the Sainsbury’s car park off South Drive. The others will be in Princess Street car park in Congleton and Love Lane in Nantwich. » Read the rest of this entry «

Statistics are here: Usage of Exeter electric Car Park chargepoints

June 14th, 2015 § Comments Off on Statistics are here: Usage of Exeter electric Car Park chargepoints § permalink

Figures obtained from Exeter City Council reveal the usage of electric car charge-points in the first year of their operation.

During this time-frame the council has seen the overall use of Car Park charge-points increase steadily, however certain charge points aren’t seeing very much uplift at all.

The two most popular Car Parks for electric car charging are the John Lewis Car Park and Magdalen Street Car Park.

John Lewis saw 80 individual charges in the year, and Magdalene Street saw 55.

» Read the rest of this entry «

Mercedes C 350 (Max 20 Miles EV Range) Plug-in Hybrid Coming Soon

June 4th, 2015 § Comments Off on Mercedes C 350 (Max 20 Miles EV Range) Plug-in Hybrid Coming Soon § permalink

Mercedes has revealed images and details of its C 350 Plug-in Hybrid, which aims to help the manufacturer meet stringent EU emissions targets across the range.

The C 350 is the second hybrid in the C-Class range following on from the C 300 BlueTEC Hybrid, which was shortlisted for our best hybrid car award in 2014. The model will be available as both a saloon and an estate, and hopes to become one of the most efficient cars in its class.

Based on appearances, there is little to tell the Plug-in Hybrid apart from regular C-Class variants: the same smart styling remains inside and out. The only subtle tweaks come courtesy of some Hybrid badging and an updated instrument cluster inside.

So the powertrain is the interesting part then?

Yes, there’s a whole heap of clever stuff going on under the skin. Power comes courtesy of a 211hp, 2.1-litre turbocharged petrol engine complimented by a 60kW electric motor. In total, this endows the C 350 with a total output of 279hp and 443lb ft. The car can run on electric power alone for up to 19 miles, which with the help of a special wall box or a public charging point, can be recharged in about 1 hour 45 minutes.

Additional mileage is eked out thanks to regenerative braking, which uses wasted energy from braking and coasting to top up the batteries. This is achieved by the electric motor replacing the brakes during gentle deceleration.

The C 350 features an interesting piece of tech to help the driver to get the most out of the efficient drivetrain. The throttle pedal features haptic feedback, which sends a pulse through the pedal when it suggests you can back off the power to increase economy. It even combines with the radar-guided cruise control to allow you to come to halt in traffic in the most efficient way. Four separate driving modes can be selected for the drivetrain to make the best use of the battery’s charge in a variety of situations.

It gets even cleverer. To make the best use of the batteries, the C 350 can anticipate how to best use the energy systems over a given route, as long as your journey has first been programmed into the satellite navigation system.

The headline figures for all this wizardry? A claimed fuel consumption of 134.5mpg, with CO2 emissions of just 48g/km (49 grams for the estate version). Despite this economy, the saloon can still sprint from 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds, while the estate is 0.3 seconds behind. That’s the future right there.

Anything else I should know?

Mercedes say the batteries add around 100 kilograms to the overall weight. More of a concern for buyers is likely to be that they rob the C-Class of boot space. The saloon has had boot volume reduced to 335 litres and the estate is barely any better at 350. At least you’ll always be comfortable once inside. Thanks to Pre-Entry climate control, the C 350’s interior temperature can be pre-set before you get in via an internet-based system. Meanwhile, the standard air suspension should keep the ride nice and smooth for driver and passengers.

How much will it cost?

The exact prices and specifications have yet to be announced, while order books are due to open in summer 2016. A bit of a wait, but it should be worth it for what promises to be a swift, economical and beautifully made car.

» Read the rest of this entry «

Ultra Low Emission Zone

April 6th, 2015 § Comments Off on Ultra Low Emission Zone § permalink

Following a public consultation, the Mayor has confirmed the introduction of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in the Capital on 7 September 2020. This will encourage the use of newer, cleaner vehicles, improving the quality of life and health of Londoners.


The ULEZ will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the same area as the current Congestion Charging zone (CCZ). All cars, motorcycles, vans, minibuses and Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) will need to meet exhaust emission standards (ULEZ standards) or pay an additional daily charge to travel within the zone.

There will be no barriers and tollbooths. Cameras will read your number plate as you enter, leave or drive within the zone and check it against the database of those who meet the ULEZ standards or need to pay the daily charge.

The ULEZ standards are in addition to the Congestion Charge and the Low Emission Zone requirements.
» Read the rest of this entry «

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